EBENSBURG — Production from a few unlikely sources paid dividends Sunday for the Latrobe Legion baseball team.
Guided by six hits from the bottom half of the lineup and a three-RBI double from Logan Short, the Jethawks cruised past Young Township, 8-2, in pool play of the Region 7 Tournament at Central Cambria High School.
“We got some big hits from the guys in the bottom half (of the order),” Latrobe manager Jason Bush said. “It’s nice to have guys that can pick you up when some of the guys at the top of the order are struggling. They came up big for us today.”
Three players in the bottom half of Latrobe’s batting order — Vinny Amatucci, Logan Gustafson and Rayce King—collected a pair of hits in the victory.
The trio accounted for six of the team’s seven hits.
“In the beginning of the year, it was mostly the top of our order that was producing for us,” Gustafson said. “But as the year has gone by, the bottom half has really picked it up. We’ve come alive, and we’re just rolling with it.”
It was a bounce-back victory for the Jethawks, who improved to 1-1 in pool play after a 7-4 loss against Claysburg on Saturday, also at Central Cambria.
Latrobe surrendered a three-run lead the day prior, Bush said, and the team sought an improved performance Sunday.
“It was really a do-or-die game for us,” said Amatucci, whose Jethawks face Beech Creek today in the third and final game of pool play. “We just had to flush our mistakes and have fun.”
Clean defensive play was an emphasis for the Jethawks, who were victim to several miscues the day prior.
After several gaffes and teamwide miscommunication, Latrobe pulled together a solid defensive effort and did not commit any errors in the victory.
“We knew we were going to have to clean it up defensively if we wanted to win today,” Gustafson said. “This is a big game, and any mistake can cost you. I think we were extra focused today, and it showed.”
Following two scoreless innings to open the game, the American Legion District 31 champs got the bats working in the bottom of the third. Gustafson chased out a dropped third strike to get on base, and King crushed a line drive triple to left field to score Gustafson.
Clay Petrosky hit a sacrifice fly on the ensuing at-bat, allowing King to trot past home plate and extend the Jethawks’ lead to 2-0.
“We were just making contact all day,” King said. “Once someone gets it started and gets a hit, we can just keep the ball rolling. It carried us through the game.”
Latrobe doubled the lead in the fourth, mostly by accident.
Latrobe’s Amatucci and Ben Anderson were on second and third base, respectively, when Grant Dowden popped out to center field for the second out of the inning.
Amatucci, who wrongly thought the inning was over, started to walk off the field, sparking the Renegades to attempt to tag him out.
But the throw to Young Township second baseman Blake Farman sailed far over his head and into the outfield, allowing Anderson to score.
“That wasn’t really planned, I’m not going to lie,” a grinning Amatucci said. “But it somehow worked. It was a fluke play, but sometimes those work out in your favor.”
A hard line drive from Gustafson on the ensuing at-bat allowed Amatucci to score to make it a 4-0 ball game.
Young Township finally generated at the plate in the fifth and cut the Latrobe lead in half.
With runners in scoring position, a double from Braeden Staats (2-for-4) soared into right field and over the head of the right fielder, Matt Macey, scoring two runs and providing the Renegades life.
“We split with (Latrobe) in the regular season and thought we had a good chance of winning today,” Young Township Manager Barry Thomas said. “We put together a couple runs in the fifth, but we just didn’t perform up to our expectations.”
While the Jethawks were carried by a few unexpected playmakers Sunday, arguably the biggest play of the afternoon sailed off the bat of a known commodity.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, all eyes were on Latrobe’s Logan Short as he entered the batter’s box.
Latrobe held just a three-run lead, and the Renegades (1-1) were beginning to find success at the plate.
After making Young Township pitcher Ethan Prough work and battle through eight pitches, Short connected on a 3-2 changeup and drilled a fly ball to center field.
The ball carried through the wind and over the head of Young Township center fielder Brice Laurenti, allowing Short to secure a double and score all three runners on base to ice the game.
“I just sat back and waited for the right pitch,” Short said. “I threw one in the gap, and I thought they were going to catch it because it was dying. But it dropped down, and we needed it.”
Jake Bradish hurled the first six innings for Latrobe, allowing seven hits, walking two and fanning three.
King threw the final inning in relief, allowing one hit and earning the final out to seal the victory for the Jethawks.
“This was a huge win,” Short said. “We really needed this. We pulled it together after yesterday, and we did it as a team. Now it’s on to the next (game).”
Latrobe now prepares for its final pool play matchup today against Beech Creek, who is also 1-1 in pool play.
The Crickets fell to Young Township Saturday, 6-1, but responded with a 15-3 victory against Claysburg Sunday.
With a trip to the Region 7 semifinals on the line, the Jethawks said they are prepared for the challenge. First pitch is scheduled for noon at Forest Hills High School in Sidman.
“It’s all in our hands right now,” Bush said. “We need a win against (Beech Creek). That’s our focus right now, and we just need to continue doing the same things we did today. I trust these guys, and we’ve been through a lot together. I’m excited to see what’s next.”
Latrobe took the lead in the middle innings, but Claysburg responded with a big inning of its own for a three-run victory during Saturday’s opening day of the Region 7 Tournament.
Claysburg led 1-0 after one inning, but the Jethawks jumped in front, 4-1, following a four-run fourth. Claysburg reclaimed the lead, 5-4, thanks to a four-run fifth and put the game away with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to set the final.
Anderson paced the Jethawks at the plate with two hits, including a double and a run scored, while Short also doubled. Gustafson contributed a single and a run scored for the Jethawks, who put together four runs on five hits.
Gustafson suffered the mound loss with six strikeouts and two walks in six-and-two-thirds innings. Jake Bleehash also pitched a clean third.
Corey Chamberlain paced Claysburg offensively with two singles, a run and three RBI. Caleb Gampe also singled twice, while Ben Dombrowsky mashed a home run, scored twice and drove in a pair. Lambert Palmer doubled and scored, Dawson Rightenour singled and crossed and Tanner Hall scored twice for Claysburg, which produced seven runs on eight hits.
Dombrowsky was the winning pitcher with two strikeouts and two walks in one-and-two-thirds. Chamberlain earned the start, working four-and-a-third with one strikeout and a walk.
Claysburg opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when Dombrowsky reached on an error, one of three miscues for the Jethawks. Palmer reached on a sacrifice and advanced Dombrowsky to third. Chamberlain singled him home to give Claysburg a 1-0 lead.
Latrobe jumped in front with a four-run fourth. Anderson doubled, while Bradish and Amatucci reached after they were hit with pitches. Gustafson singled in Anderson, and on the same play, Bradish and Amatucci crossed on an error. King followed with a sacrifice fly to score Gustafson and give the Jethawks a three-run edge.
Rightenour singled in the bottom of the fifth, Hall was hit by a pitch and Palmer doubled in a run. Chamberlain singled in Hall and Palmer, Gampe singled and Hunter Emmerick drove in a run with another base knock to give Claysburg the lead for good.
Claysburg added to its advantage in the sixth when Hall walked and Dombrowski hit a two-run homer, completing the scoring.
Young Twp. Latrobe ab r h ab r h
Colemn 4 0 0 Petrsky 2 1 0 Laurnti 4 1 2 Batista 1 1 0 Yard 4 1 2 Short 3 0 1 Staats 4 0 2 Andersn 1 1 0 Gastn 2 0 0 Bradish 3 0 0 Prugh 2 0 1 Amatcci 3 1 2 Fairmn 2 0 0 Dowden 3 0 0 Templetn 2 0 1 Gustafsn 2 2 2 Kavulic 2 0 0 King 3 2 2
Totals 26 2 8 Totals 21 8 7Young Twp. 000 020 0 — 2 8 2Latrobe 002 204 x — 8 7 0 Doubles: Short (L); Yard, Staats (YT) Triples: King (L) Strikeouts by: Bradish-3 (L); Prugh-4 (YT) Base on balls by: Bradish-2 (L); Prugh-4 (YT) Winning pitcher: Jake Bradish Losing pitcher: Ethan Prugh ———
Latrobe Claysburg ab r h ab r h
Petrsky 3 0 1 Dmbrsky 3 2 1 Batista 3 0 0 Palmer 3 1 1 Short 4 0 1 Chambrln 3 1 2 Andersn 2 1 2 Gampe 3 0 2 Bradsh 3 1 0 Emmrck 3 0 1 Amatcci 2 1 0 Dibert 3 0 0 Gustafsn 3 1 1 Oakes 3 0 0 King 1 0 0 Rightnur 3 1 1 Macey 3 0 0 Hall 0 2 0 Bleehsh 0 0 0
Totals 25 4 5 Totals 24 7 8Latrobe 000 400 0 — 4 5 3Claysburg 100 042 x — 7 8 1 Doubles: Short, Anderson (L); Palmer (C) Home Run: Dombrowsky (C) Strikeouts by: Gustafson-6, Bleehash-0 (L); Chamberlain-1, Dombrowsky-2, Gampe-2 (C) Base on balls by: Gustafson-2, Bleehash-0 (L); Chamberlain-1, Dombrowsky-2, Gampe-2 (C) Winning pitcher: Ben Dombrowsky Losing pitcher: Logan Gustafson